It’s all happening in Cork this weekend – the inaugural Fork Fest , August Craft Month and the Michael Collins centenary. There’s still time to plan a visit. Here’s where to book …
The Imperial Hotel & Spa, Cork
The details: Cork’s grande dame hotel, which has welcomed everyone from royalty to revolutionaries. Snap a selfie with the “stars” on the hotel’s wall of history, try out the Escape Spa which offers treatments by Voya and Aveda, sip a cocktail in the stylish Sketch bar, or ask the Special Occasion Butler James to arrange some special romantic treats and trips.
Best for: Irish history buffs. Stay in room 115, the new Michael Collins suite which has undergone a significant renovation and features an impressive mahogany four poster bed and antiques as well as a bust of Collins on a writing desk. The suite is being unveiled on August 21 – 22, coinciding with the centenary of the Irish revolutionary’s death, alongside a new portrait by Irish artist Mick O’Dea. On Sunday, August 21, members of Michael Collins’s family will attend the screening of two documentaries – The Collector and The Final Days, introduced by historian Bartle Darcy. Members of the public are welcome to these screenings which will take place in the ballroom at 6.30pm and bookings can be made via Eventbrite. An overnight stay in the Michael Collins Suite is from €450 for double occupancy and includes complimentary use of the vitality suite at Escape Spa, complimentary soft drink mini bar and a “bubbly birdcage” on arrival, (think prosecco and sweet treats); www.imperialhotelcork.com.
Kilmahon House, Shanagarry
The details: An elegant, listed Glebe Heritage House of Ireland, Kilmahon is only a short walk to Ballycotton Bay and Ballymaloe Cookery School. On site, there’s a beautiful walled rose garden with expansive lawns and ocean views – the backdrop for languorous afternoons and al fresco breakfasts. Inside, log fires and tastefully furnished airy rooms prioritise comfort.
Best for: An exclusive rental and family holiday. There are six en-suite bedrooms. The owners, Julia and Mike Behringer-Philips, can arrange additional catering if required. Rooms are from €180 per night with breakfast; www.hiddenireland.com.
Castlemartyr Estate, Grange, Castlemartyr
The details: This 17th-century manor house, adjacent to an 800-year-old castle, has an interesting history which includes Strongbow, Walter Raleigh and the Knights Templar. Now comprising over 100 rooms and suites, as well as 47 luxe self-catering lodges, a spa and a golf course, it’s entirely possible to check in and not leave the grounds, as everything is on site for a relaxing staycation. Gourmets should note, French chef Vincent Crepel will open Terre restaurant (set over several spaces including a preserving room, dining room, kitchen and salon) at the resort in mid-September. Terre will draw on his experience in France, the Basque Country and Asia.
Best for: An easy golf and spa weekend. Discover the Ron Kirby-designed inland links golf experience at Castlemartyr Estate, during an overnight “Golf Escape” – from €520 for two people. The experience includes overnight accommodation in one of the newly-refurbished rooms, breakfast served in the new Canopy Restaurant and a round of golf on the 18-hole course. Guests also have use of the resort’s impressive spa and leisure centre; www.castlemartyrresort.ie.
The Castle, Castletownshend
The details: This 17th-century castellated house overlooks the harbour of Castlehaven. Built by the Townshend family, the house has gradually expanded with towers being added in the 1800s. Now, eleven generations on and rejuvenated in 2016, The Castle offers both an authentic historic home, with its wood panelled walls, family portraits and ornaments, and all the expected modern amenities from WiFi to Nespresso machines.
Best for: A nostalgic village experience. Castletownshend is an unspoilt village set on a steep hill running all the way down to The Castle at the bottom. The village has an air of days gone by with its old phone box, petrol pump and listed green water pumps. Mary Ann’s Bar & Restaurant is just minutes from The Castle, Lil McCarthy’s pub at the top of the village is open for late drinks and hosts music throughout the summer months, and there’s a small village shop. Ask for one of the sea facing rooms in The Castle, from €150- €240 per night, with singles from €100-€150; www.hiddenireland.ie.
Dunmore House, Clonakilty
The details: Given its picturesque setting overlooking Clonakilty Bay, a trip to Dunmore House is ideal for anyone looking for breezy Atlantic walks along great beaches and beautiful gardens.
Best for: Garden enthusiasts. Dunmore House is part of the West Cork Garden Trail, a collection of 23 gardens open to the public. Dunmore’s garden comprises the Cliff Garden and the Ocean Garden, an organic kitchen garden — that overlook the Atlantic. With polytunnels, extensive outdoor raised bed areas with herbs, seasonal salads and edible flowers, the Dunmore House horticulturist, Sinead, and her team use permaculture principles with a dedicated organic and active composting area using seaweed and other natural manures along with companion planting to increase fertility and to assist with biodiversity. The best thing is seeing how the hotel’s Michelin-recommended Adrift restaurant incorporates the home grown organic produce into its appealing menus. To sample, an overnight stay with breakfast and dinner for two in Adrift starts from €310; www.dunmorehousehotel.ie.
The Kingsley Hotel, Carrigrohane Road, Cork
The details: Polished and sophisticated, with a bistro-style restaurant, luxury spa and an extensive Health Club, The Kingsley is a member of the Fota Collection and has a distinctive riverside location on the banks of the River Lee.
Best for: Families. The hotel is a short distance from local attractions including Fitzgerald’s Park and Blarney Castle and Gardens, as well as a short drive to Kinsale and Crosshaven. A two night stay at The Kingsley is available from €279 per night for two adults and two children in a luxurious family room complete with breakfast each morning; www.thekingsley.ie.
Fota Island Resort, Fota Island
The details: Magnificent grounds, cosy and comfortable residential Lodges, championship golf courses, Blue Flag beaches and numerous walking routes and trails have all ensured that Fota Island Resort is consistently voted a family favourite. It was recently awarded a five-star status from Fáilte Ireland.
Best for: Activity holidays; the resort is all about choice. For families who love a challenge, Fota Adventure’s two hour adventure course includes activities like target archery and an obstacle course. Families can take to the water and enjoy kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. There are plenty of local activities and excursions nearby to enjoy during a stay including Fota Wildlife and Fota House and Gardens, Spike Island, the Titanic Experience in Cobh, or a visit to the markets at Midleton. A three-night family retreat in one of Fota Island Resort’s self-catering two-bedroom lodges for two adults and two children starts from €820. A family room in the hotel starts from €1,182 for a three-night stay; www.fotaisland.ie.
Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen
The details: A classic Georgian manor with lush gardens, private lake and trails, a lakeside wellness centre and newly refurbished rooms.
Best for: Reconnecting with nature. With 163 acres to enjoy, the current offer incorporates two special experiences during the “Believe in Light” overnight getaway. This includes private access to James Turrell’s impressive Sky Garden, a deep crater of green grass open to the sky designed to be an observatory on a dramatic scale. There is also a serene night kayak on Lough Hyne led by professionals from Atlantic Sea Kayaking and dinner. From €489 including dinner; www.lissardestate.ie.
Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons
The details: Originally built in 1728, this private property has been owned by three generations of the Green family and is most famous for hosting HRH The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2018. No doubt the royals were wowed by its magical setting and gardens, delicious home cooking and small batch distillery – home of Bertha’s Revenge gin.
Best for: A romantic break or glamping trip. Activities such as croquet, clay pigeon shooting, fishing and pheasant shoots can be arranged. Rooms are from €270 per night. Dinner can be booked and is €67.50 for a seasonal set menu; www.ballyvolane.ie.
Ballymaloe Hotel and Restaurant, Shanagarry
The details: The family-run country house hotel owned by the Allen family has been welcoming guests since 1964. The 17th-century house is built onto a 12th-century Norman Castle and is surrounded by a 300-acre farm. Bedrooms are charming, and come in all shapes and sizes, from large and airy to cosy, including ground floor rooms in the courtyard. Onsite there is an outdoor, heated pool (for summer use), a craft and kitchenware shop, café and events centre – The Ballymaloe Grainstore.
Best for: Gourmets, who will particularly enjoy the spectacular breakfasts and dinner (the dessert trolley is a highlight!). Currently on offer is the Jameson Whiskey Ballymaloe Experience – a one night stay which includes dinner, a Jameson Irish Coffee, breakfast the following morning and a trip to the Jameson Distillery in Middleton. The Jameson Distillery run tours at: 11am, 1pm, 2.30pm and 4.15pm. From €500 total stay; www.secure.irelands-blue-book.ie.
The Montenotte Hotel, Middle Glanmire Road, Cork
The details: A boutique bolthole minutes from Cork city centre, with a bijou spa, well equipped gym, delicious dining options, a cinema, stunning Victorian gardens and amazing views from the Panorama Terrace.
Best for: Historical and cultural excursions from whiskey tasting to wellbeing, part of its new initiative “your stay, your way” bespoke experience packages. These include a two-night stay with breakfast on both mornings, an evening meal on a night of your choice, plus a Montenotte gin and tonic on arrival. Experiences include a Fairytale picnic excursion to Blarney Castle and Gardens, complete with a champagne and cheese picnic. The Spirit of Cork experience includes a visit to Jameson Distillery in Midleton and a premium whiskey-tasting experience. The Wellness Experience starts with a bike tour of Cork City to take in the landmarks and is followed by a 60-minute treatment in Bellevue Spa and a holistic Reiki session with The Montenotte’s resident Reiki practitioner. Book now and receive 20 per cent off all stays until December 30. This promotion will run until August 23; www.montenottehotel.com.